Novak Djokovic secured his 40th match win of the year as he defeated the Slovenia born Aljaz Bedene, ranked 66th in the world, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 and advanced into the round of 16 at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. Djokovic, who is bidding to complete a career slam and also complete the non-calendar slam has reached the fourth round at the French Open for the tenth time in his career.
Djokovic hit 39 winners, including five aces and saved five of the seven break points. He will next play the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut who defeated the Croat prodigy Borna Coric with a surprisingly easy 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win requiring only two hours to emerge victorious.
In what was the most eagerly awaited match up of the day between the two Next Gen superstars, Dominic Thiem of Austria rallied from the loss of the first set to the German Alexander Zverev, in a tie-break, to win 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and fifty minutes and next faces the Spanish doubles specialist Marcel Granollers who got the walkover from Nadal. David Ferrer won an all Spanish encounter against the left handed Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-1.
Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic registered his first win over the Argentine born Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. The seventh seeded Berdych rallied from a set down to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 in nearly three hours. Berdych dropped serve in the opening game of the match, but broke serve once in the second, twice in the third set and then finally in the 11th game of the match before serving out the match.
Cuevas was bidding to become the first Uruguayan to reach the fourth round since Marcelo Filippini in 1999. Berdych will next play Ferrer who leads the Czech 8-6 in career meetings.
David Goffin of Belgium improved to 5-0 in five setters at the Roland Garros, scoring his first victory over the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. The Belgian who had won two five setters in Paris before loosing to Roger Federer in 2012 in the round of 16, fired 36 winners including 10 aces to advance after nearly three hours.
After the disappointing withdrawal of nine time former champion Rafael Nadal of Spain due to a wrist injury, the French were in for more tragedy as the highest ranked Frenchman Jo Wilfred Tsonga had to retire due to a groin injury which meant the 2014 semi finalist Ernests Gulbis of Latvia will advance to the final 16.
Goffin will now play Gulbis in the pre-quarterfinals on Monday. Tsonga retired with a left adductor injury. An emotional Tsonga left the court in tears. He led 5-2 in the first set when he was forced to withdraw after stretching to hit a forehand. Ninth seeded Richard Gasquet is now the lone French hope in the men’s draw.
Following is the list of matches in the round of 16 to be played on Sunday with my pick mentioned first:-
Andy Murray (2) v. John Isner (15)
Richard Gasquet (9) v. Kei Nishikori (5)
Stanislas Wawrinka (3) v. Victor Troicki (22)
Milos Raonic (8) v. Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
In the women’s section of the draw the top seed and defending champion Serena Williams advanced with a 6-4, 7-6(10) win over the Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic. Her elder sibling Venus was also a winner over another French hope Alize Cornet 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-0. There was more joy for USA as the 21year old Madison Keys beat Monica Puig 7-6(3), 6-3.
Kiki Bertens of Holland beat the Russian Daria Kasatkina in a marathon 6-2, 3-6, 10-8. Ukrainian Elina Svitolina put out the the 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-4. Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva had a 6-1, 6-1 win over the Italian Karin Knapp. The remaining two winners were last years semi finalist Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland and the Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]